With a six month old
It feels like a lifetime ago that I was in Italy especially because this piece has been sitting in my draft folder for six months and even more so because Lucille has changed so much since our trip. And of course we have since travelled to the other side of the world so a three-hour flight to Italy seems like a piece of cake. Looking back now it was the perfect time for us to have that adventure and what an adventure it was!
I didn’t know how I was going to cope traveling with a six month old. I didn’t know how Lucille was going to manage the flight, the change of scenery, change in rhythm (I hate the word routine!) or even the change in temperature but, in all my nervousness I was actually excited about having this experience. Mr B and I aren’t the most organised travellers. We get to a place and then work out what we want to see and do. We were even more disorganised for this trip as all our energy went into securing reasonably timed flights and a base in which we could set up camp and explore the Amalfi Coast. That’s as far as we got. Considering we did so little research we managed remarkably well. Honestly, all I could think about was packing Lucille’s things and making sure we had enough to make her feel comfortable. I am a bit of a worrier and this has amplified since having Lucille so even though I felt like I packed the bare essentials, I could’ve packed a lot more for all the ‘what ifs’. I had to remind myself we weren’t traveling to the wilderness with no signs of civilisation.
We stayed in Cava de’ Tirreni, a town in the region of Campania. It was recommended to us by a friend and we weren’t disappointed. Our AirBnB apartment was in the town square which despite being a fabulous apartment (you can see it over on my Instagram highlights), there were a few issues with its location. I’ll get to that shortly. The town had everything we had hoped for. Amazing food (some of the best I’ve ever eaten) and some of the best spots to people watch, something we did a lot of. It’s one of my favourite things to do on holiday. Such a great way to soak up the essence of a town or city. Everything from what the locals eat to what they wear. I was so taken aback by the style of the people in Cava de’ Tirreni, I often felt like I was staring, which I guess I was. Now the style wasn’t necessarily to my personal taste but I was so impressed with how much effort went into people’s overall appearance and often just to go for an evening walk. Even more so was what appeared to be the lack of interest in what others thought. A contradiction indeed as I imagine a lot of their efforts were fuelled by what others would think, but it came with an air of confidence, one that could be mistaken for not having a care in the world.
I am so glad we took this holiday as I learnt so much about Lucille but more about myself. Mostly I learnt that Lucille is a strong, confident little person who manages change well. She of course needed some reassurance but was not afraid to explore everything in her path. I knew this already but the trip really cemented these amazing qualities. I also learnt a few other things while traveling with Lucille but more so about travelling with babies in general.
1. Italians love babies! It was hard to get anywhere without strangers stopping to have a look and play peek-a-boo and tell me how much Lucille looked like her papa! With this affection you can then imagine that breastfeeding in public was no problem at all. I don’t have any issues with breastfeeding in public anyway but if you were a bit on the shy side, breastfeeding in Italy will do wonders for your confidence. People continue to chat to you, no-one rushes you, no one asks you to move. Feeding your baby is the most important thing and everyone works around you. A lovely attitude indeed. I even had a gentleman apologise for smoking outdoors while sitting near us.
2. You need a bit of muscle. This will depend on the area you are traveling but as for the Amalfi Coast, expect lots of towns on cliff faces, cobbled streets and stairs. We didn’t rent a car so relied on public transport. No major issues but again be prepared to carry prams up and down platforms. Thankfully there were two of us but like with breastfeeding, everyone was very accommodating and offered to help with stairs and getting on and off the train. It would’ve helped to be more prepared at times as some towns were more manageable than others. For example Amalfi, although jammed with people, was easier to get around than the likes of Positano which we skipped due to its vertical nature.
3. Travel cots are hell! Be sure to know how to assemble one before you arrive at your accommodation. Thank goodness for internet connections and YouTube.
4. Some comforts are needed. We use very little products on Lucille so I am wary of introducing anything new, a stress I didn’t need in another country. As a result I would suggest bringing your own washing powder, creams or anything that you use for yourself and baby. No fancy containers; zip lock bags are your best friend and reusable. I actually brought all the zip lock bags that I used to pack Lucille’s outfits in my hospital bag. Talk about being sentimental for a bit of plastic!
5. Beware of festivals! If you are staying in a smallish town check the town’s calendar for religious festivals. These generally involve carnivals, djs, music, canons and fireworks. A great party atmosphere, however if there is one on when you plan on traveling, consider changing your dates. Our accommodation was smack bang in the middle of the town square so it felt like we were sitting on a speaker in a European night club trying to get Lucille to sleep. Normally I would be all for these kind of festivities but if you are travelling with small children and want any kind of peace, I would suggest you avoid them at all cost!
6. Food glorious food. This was a real highlight on this trip and it was something I was not willing to compromise on just because we were travelling with a baby. What joy it was pretending to be a local, choosing ‘our’ bakery and fruit and vegetable shop. We always had breakfast in our apartment and depending on what we were doing we either had lunch or dinner out. If you are planning on eating out you will need to do a bit of research as most places in smaller towns close for lunch and restaurants open at 8pm. This was a little restrictive with Lucille but we found some great places that opened at 7pm and we were the first ones through the door. If you do find yourself in this region, Madison is a must for the best and cheapest pizza you will ever eat as well as Hosteria Al Civico 2. Be sure to go with an empty stomach and pace yourself. There are more dishes than you will be able to eat but you can try!
7. Money well spent. Sometimes it is worth spending a little money. We were eager to head to the beach but soon realised this was not going to be as easy as we thought. This is where it pays to spend a bit of money. For everyone’s sanity and enjoyment, we decided to go to a local lido in Salerno. There was plenty of space (enough for us to be in the shade with a pram), a baby pool, clean and spacious change rooms, access to the beach and a restaurant. It felt a little indulgent seeing as the public beach was only a few meters down the road but it was one of the best days of the holiday. That and I adopted the Italian style I had been admiring for days; even if only just for a few hours.
8. Go with the flow. I say this more as a reminder to myself. With children and more specifically babies, you cannot account for every occurrence, as much as I try. Traveling, with all of its unknowns has made this concept less daunting. There was a time in the early days of Lucille’s life when I would leave a supermarket if she started to cry (that’s a whole other post) but being on a plane, being in a different country and trying to marry her needs and mine did me the world of good. For example Lucille had a meltdown on the flight on the way home and I wanted to join her. In that moment it did not even enter my head about what others thought, nor should it.
This trip was such an experience not only because it was our first holiday as a three but also because of where we went. Cava de’ Tirreni had it all. Glorious weather, friendly locals, amazing surroundings and some of the best food I’ve ever eaten. We would definitely go back and I think that is always a telling sign.